Developing a Workable Parenting Plan
For a couple with children, a divorce or separation can be particularly challenging. In addition to the difficulties inherent to every other marital dissolution, such as property division and alimony, divorcing parents are also faced with the prospect of sharing parental responsibilities. As with most aspects of divorce, the court can and will determine arrangements for dividing these responsibilities, but only if necessary. Illinois courts and the law much prefer that divorcing parents reach an agreement of their own, as a negotiated arrangement is more likely to be followed than one simply imposed by a judge. Drafting a parenting plan that works well for you, your spouse, and your child is a vital part of the divorce process for parents.
Your parenting plan must clearly lay out the rights and responsibilities for both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse regarding your child. Recent changes to the law in Illinois have eliminated the concepts of sole and joint child custody, so the two of you will need to decide who will be responsible for what, especially regarding significant issues like education, health care, religious training, and extracurricular activities. One of you may be responsible for all significant decisions, they may be split between you, or you may choose to make all such decisions together—presuming that communication is strong enough to facilitate cooperation.
A workable parenting plan will also need to include some type of method for determining each party’s parenting time. Whether you decide to follow a strict schedule or use a more flexible arrangement, you are both entitled to time with your child. You will also need to decide which of your homes will be used for school enrollment and other custodial-type purposes. Your plan should also include, if appropriate, the right of first refusal regarding alternative child-care needs.
Regardless of how comprehensive your parenting plan may be, you and the other parent are likely to disagree on certain aspects of the arrangements down the road. For this reason, your plan must also contain provisions that address how disagreements are to be resolved. You may, for example, agree that mediation is the preferred method of dispute resolution, or that one parent has the final say all on decisions. As long as your plan works for both parents and does not compromise your child’s best interests, it will be accepted by the court and included in your divorce judgment.
If you have questions about parental responsibilities or parenting plans, contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney. We can provide the answers you need and the representation you deserve as you look to provide post-divorce security for your children. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation today.